Ellen Kamps and Blake Lanphier – Presiding Fellows
We began our first full day in Tel Aviv at Herods, a hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. With a packed, 10-hour schedule, the class was ready to explore the city of nearly 500,000 on the first Sunday of March.
Briefed by our Israeli hosts from IBG Global, Sherwin Pomerantz, and Dan Levy, the class departed for the Israeli Gene Bank and Volcani Institute of Plant Sciences. There, the presenters enthusiastically shared their innovative agriculture solutions, including plant breeding, water desalination, and methods of maintaining intellectual property.
The class then traveled to meet with Oren Shaked and Eugene Young of the U.S. Embassy for a briefing on the Israeli agricultural sector. Located in a conference room in Modi’in, a small suburb of Tel Aviv, they highlighted the exports of the country of 8.7 million, while explaining trade with the EU and Brexit’s trade agreements.
Netafim was next, an irrigation production facility and demonstration farm within a kibbutz in northern Israel. Started in 1965, their cutting edge technology emphasized the importance of nourishing the plant, not the soil, and how precision irrigation delivers water and fertilizers to the roots of the plants.
For the final session of the evening, the class traveled back into Tel Aviv to meet with representatives Ben Yuron and Shmuel Rausnitz from Start-Up Nation. At their hip, downtown office space, they explained the Israeli ecosystem of innovation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and how it applies to agricultural start-ups.
It was a beautiful day to explore more of the city, and the class looks forward to traveling farther north to the Sea of Galilee, and visiting banana, mango, and avocado farms tomorrow!